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Forensic Science Colleges in Ohio

For Buckeye State residents interested in forensic science, crime scene investigation (CSI), and related disciplines, there are several quality forensics colleges in Ohio (OH). After graduating from a program, these professionals typically help solve crimes by collecting evidence from crime scenes; performing laboratory analyses; collaborating with various experts in metallurgy; and even testifying in court.

Ohio offers various educational programs, including flexible online options, for those seeking a career in science-based law enforcement. To become a forensic scientist, candidates typically pursue a bachelor’s degree in the natural sciences. Others pursue careers as crime scene investigators and may get their careers started in a police academy, pursuing more education while working in the field. There are a variety of paths for aspiring forensic scientists detailed below.

Forensic science is a relatively high-paying career in Ohio. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average salary for forensic science technicians is $69,260 annually (BLS May 2022). This is almost 12 percent higher than the average salary for all occupations in the country at $61,900 (BLS May 2022). By comparison, forensic scientists in Ohio earn an average salary of $73,630 (BLS May 2022).

To learn about degree programs, certifications, and the job outlook for forensic scientists in Ohio, read below.

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How to Become a Forensic Scientist in Ohio

Becoming a forensic scientist in Ohio can take many educational and experiential paths. A four-year college degree is a typical requirement; however, there are numerous two-year degree and certificate programs to get started. Here is one of the most common pathways to pursuing a career in forensic science:

Step 1: Graduate from high school (four years)

Candidates for forensic science positions typically have strong natural sciences and mathematics backgrounds, including classes in chemistry, physics, biology, and calculus. These classes prepare students for the laboratory work and detail-oriented scientific analyses expected in this position.

Step 2: Pursue a bachelor’s degree in chemistry, biology, or physics (four years)

Forensic scientists in Ohio also typically take courses in statistics, writing, and mathematics. While crime scene investigators and forensic science technicians may work with a high school degree and relevant experience, forensic scientists in Ohio typically need a bachelor’s degree to work in a lab.

According to Career One Stop, which the U.S. Department of Labor sponsors, 31 percent of forensic scientists reported having a bachelor’s degree, 14 percent had associate degrees, and 24 percent had some college. The BLS (2022) notes that there may be exceptions for these basic educational requirements, especially in rural areas where the demand for forensic scientists is high.

Step 3: Seek certification from a national organization (timeline varies)

Although certification is not required to practice forensic science in Ohio, several organizations offer certification, particularly for specific sub-disciplines.

The most common certifying organizations include the American Board of Criminalistics (ABC) and the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). In addition, the Forensic Specialties Accreditation Board (FSAB) provides a comprehensive list of accredited professional certification bodies, many of which offer membership or certification benefits, including region-specific chapters and networking.

Step 4: Pursue a master’s degree in forensic science (two years)

Those interested in specializing or enhancing their skills may choose to pursue a post-baccalaureate degree. CareerOneStop reports that 15 percent of forensic scientists have these more advanced degrees (e.g., master’s, professional, or doctoral).

In summary, aspiring forensic scientists in Ohio can expect to complete four to six years of postsecondary work and meet optional certification requirements. While registering as a forensic scientist is not required to work in Ohio, enhancing one’s credentials at various employing organizations may be desirable. By passing aptitude tests or fulfilling membership criteria in organizations such as the ABC, candidates may strengthen their candidacy for multiple jobs.

Also, forensic scientists can hone their skills in specific areas by taking electives such as toxicology, psychology, or physical anthropology, forensic scientists can hone their skills in specific areas. According to the American Academy of Forensic Sciences (AAFS), there are many specialized disciplines within forensic science, including the following:

  • Anthropology
  • Criminalistics
  • Digital & Multimedia Sciences
  • Engineering Sciences
  • General
  • Jurisprudence
  • Odontology
  • Pathology/Biology
  • Psychiatry & Behavioral Science
  • Questioned Documents
  • Toxicology

Taking electives in any subject listed above may help forensic scientists secure jobs with more specific skill requirements. For more information, check out how to become a forensic scientist.

How to Become a Crime Scene Investigator in Ohio

In 2021, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation’s Laboratory Division reported over 200,000 pieces of evidence are processed annually in crime scene investigations. To become a crime scene investigator in Ohio, candidates typically do the following:

Step 1: Graduate from high school (four years)

Crime scene investigators in Ohio typically need at least a high school degree to join this field.

Step 2: Complete a program at a police academy (timeline varies)

Crime scene investigators in Ohio complete a program through the Ohio Peace Officer Training Academy (OPOTA). This may be sufficient for employment in more rural agencies if combined with years of relevant work experience. Program length varies regionally, but most police academy programs last approximately six to 12 months.

Step 3: Get an associate or bachelor’s degree in a field such as criminal justice, criminology, crime scene investigation, or forensic technology (two to four years)

Many crime scene investigators in Ohio opt to earn a degree to gain specific skills in their field. Some of the classes in these programs may include analytical chemistry, forensic science, and law enforcement. In addition, many educational programs are designed for working police officers to complete while working full-time.

Step 4: Pursue a certification (timeline varies)

Some crime scene investigators in Ohio choose to earn certification to bolster their credentials and earn higher salaries. While many organizations offer certifications, one of the most common in this line of work is the International Association for Identification (IAI).

Requirements for certification as a crime scene investigator include full-time employment, at least one year of experience, 48 hours of crime scene certification board-approved courses, two letters of endorsement, an application fee, and passing a written test with a score of at least 75 percent. This certification is valid for five years. Other certifying agencies include the International Crime Scene Investigators Association (ICSIA).

Therefore, crime scene investigators in Ohio can expect to complete six months to four years of post-secondary work, in addition to optional certification requirements. Again, while certification by agencies such as the ICSIA is not a requirement in Ohio, it may be desirable to show a candidate’s aptitude when applying for jobs.

Before seeking a CSI program or a certification, candidates in Ohio should be sure to check the requirements of their intended place of employment. For more information, the www.forensicscolleges.com education blog features a detailed breakdown of how to become a crime scene investigator.

Occupational Demand for Forensics Professionals in Ohio

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) includes forensic scientists and CSIs under its “forensic science technician” categorization. According to the BLS (May 2022), 450 forensic science technicians are working in Ohio. The BLS projects that openings in this field will grow 11 percent between 2021 and 2031 nationwide, with a number of these openings in Ohio.

The outlook is slightly brighter for residents of Ohio. Projections Central (2023) found that demand for forensic science technicians in Ohio specifically is expected to grow 11.4 percent between 2020 and 2030.

Typically, graduates may find many jobs in forensic science in larger cities due to higher crime rates and a greater need for crime-solving teams.

For example, the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory in Dayton, Ohio, employs forensic scientists to assist local law enforcement agencies. It is also the first crime lab in Ohio to be accredited by the ANSI-ASQ National Accreditation Board (ANAB). This national accreditation may indicate the laboratory services’ integrity, consistency, impartiality, and quality. Other employing organizations for forensic science technicians in Ohio may include:

Forensic scientists and crime scene investigators in Ohio typically work in laboratories, police stations, classrooms, medical examiner offices, hospitals, morgues, or at crime scenes. There are also several positions available in federal, state, and local governments.

The Ohio Identification Officers Association may offer an additional sense of community with its annual training conference for those seeking professional support on a regional level.

Forensics Salaries in Ohio

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS May 2022) reported that there were 450 forensic science technicians in the state.

Furthermore, the state boasts higher-than-average wages for forensic science technicians. As proof of point, the United States employs 17,590 forensic science technicians with an average annual salary (mean annual wage) of $69,260. In OH, the average salary in this field is $73,630.

In more detailed terms, here is a breakdown of the salary percentiles among all forensic science technicians in the country compared with those in Ohio (BLS May 2022):

United States Ohio
Number of Forensic Science Technicians Employed 17,590 450
Annual Mean Wage $69,260 $73,630
10th percentile $39,710 $48,350
25th percentile $49,320 $60,110
50th percentile $63,740 $63,620
75th percentile $82,160 $96,390
90th percentile $104,330 $100,960

The national figures were slightly different according to another source of data, PayScale (June 2023), which relies on self-reported salaries. Among the forensic science techs reporting their annual salaries, PayScale found these percentiles for the US:

  • 10th percentile: $29,000
  • 50th percentile (median): $49,163
  • 90th percentile: $61,000

When considering earning potential, the cost of living is a key piece of the puzzle. Forensic science technicians in OH fared much better than people in this industry nationwide. What makes this salary point particularly interesting is the fact that Ohio is one of the cheaper states to live in across the country. The Missouri Economic Research and Information Center (MERIC 2023) found that OH was the 12th most affordable state.

Forensic Science Programs in Ohio

There are several top undergraduate forensic science programs in Ohio. After graduating from high school and completing typical prerequisites such as chemistry, mathematics, and biology, students in Ohio may be eligible to apply.

It’s worth noting that many educational institutions require that their candidates be of “strong moral character.” In the admissions process, several schools require background checks and reference letters to ensure students’ ethical behavior and suitability for the work required to complete forensic science degree programs.

Ashland University

Ashland University offers a bachelor of science in biology with a forensic biology concentration. This concentration is designed to give students a solid theoretical and practical biology and law enforcement background.

In the program’s first two years, students take foundational courses in mathematics, biology, and chemistry and focus on specialized courses such as molecular biology and criminal justice in the final two years of the program. This 120-credit program places graduates in positions with the FBI, Ohio Patrol, Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and local forensic science laboratories.

  • Location: Ashland, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
  • Estimated Tuition: $940 per credit

Central Ohio Technical College

Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) offers a two-year degree program on-campus and online for aspiring forensic technicians, forensic technical assistants, crime scene investigators, crime scene examiners, and law enforcement officers. In addition, COTC’s associate of applied science (AAS) program in criminal justice offers introductions to corrections, drugs in the criminal system, and introduction to sociology. This program is a member of the North Central Association. COTC has campuses in Newark, Knox, Coshocton, and Pataskala.

Graduates from this program pursue careers as federal agents and criminal investigators. In addition, COTC has transfer agreements with Ohio University, Tiffin University, and the University of Cincinnati, allowing students to transfer their credits towards a bachelor’s degree at these institutions.

  • Location: Newark, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($209 per credit); non-resident ($324 per credit)

Ohio University

The College of Arts and Sciences at Ohio University in Athens offers a bachelor of science (BS) in forensic chemistry. It boasts one of the longest-standing programs of its kind in the country. It notes that the rigorous curriculum and quality instruction can prepare its graduates for employment in modern crime laboratories, law enforcement agencies, and other organizations, including the FDA, OSHA, and the EPA.

OU’s forensic chemistry BS program has earned accreditation from the prestigious Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) and is one of the very few programs in Ohio with this distinction.

As part of the program, students will delve into topics such as introduction to toxicology; microscopy and imaging; basic biochemistry; forensic chemistry; criminalistics and criminal investigation for forensic chemists; chemistry and the law; criminal justice; foundations in forensic studies; and ethics and legal issues.

  • Location: Athens, OH
  • Accreditation: Forensic Science Education Program Accreditation Commission (FEPAC); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
  • Estimated Tuition: Ohio resident ($621 per credit); out-of-state ($1,130 per credit)

Tiffin University

Tiffin University of Tiffin, Ohio, offers a 121-credit bachelor’s of criminal justice (BCJ) degree in criminalistics on-campus and online. Students in this program learn the principles of crime reconstruction and analysis of physical evidence. Identification techniques and evidence preservation are emphasized, and students learn through didactic and hands-on practical methodologies.

Made up of 121 credits, the program includes courses such as applied criminal investigation & criminalistics; criminology; forensic investigation of sex crimes; investigative interviewing; death investigations; introduction to forensic science; survey of science; and evidence processing. As part of the program, students must complete a supervised internship to get hands-on experience in evidence handling, instrumental analysis, and research design.

A unique feature of this program is police officer training offered through Terra State Community College, which gives students the hands-on experience required to work in law enforcement in Ohio. Passing a state-certified exam is necessary to become a sworn police officer in Ohio.

  • Location: Tiffin, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
  • Estimated Tuition: On-campus ($1,030 per credit); online ($480 per credit)

Bowling Green State University

Bowling Green State University (BGSU) in Bowling Green offers several on-campus forensic science programs out of its Center for the Future of Forensic Science, including a bachelor of science (BS) or master of science (MS) in forensic science. The BS program allows students to choose from three specializations in forensic DNA analysis, forensic drug analysis, or forensic examination (including trace evidence and latent prints). Notably, the bachelor’s degree is accredited by the Forensic Science Educational Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC).

The MS program prepares forensic scientists for leadership roles in laboratories and law enforcement settings. The school also offers professional training programs for working professionals in forensic science and crime scene investigation. Finally, the BGSU campus is home to an Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation (BCI) crime laboratory and investigation facility.

  • Location: Bowling Green, OH
  • Accreditation: Forensic Science Educational Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC); Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two or four years
  • Estimated Tuition: $13,125.60 annually for undergraduate students

Defiance College

Defiance College offers a bachelor’s degree in forensic science bringing together the fields of biology, chemistry, medicine, criminal justice, and physics. Students in this program gain several skills including DNA fingerprinting, analyzing evidence from arsons for accelerants, trajectories for ballistics, presumptive tests for narcotics, the legal procedures for taking evidence to the court, and human anatomy for drawing evidence from remains.

Designed to provide students with a solid science background coupled with a foundation in legal concepts and criminal justice, this bachelor’s degree includes courses in biochemistry; molecular biology; genetics; introduction to criminal justice; criminal law; criminal investigation; criminal evidence and procedure; forensic science; and quantitative analysis.

  • Location: Defiance, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
  • Estimated Tuition: Full-time ($17,278 per semester); part-time ($548 per credit)

Youngstown State University

Youngstown State University’s bachelor of science in applied science program with a forensic science major is housed in the Department of Chemical and Biological Sciences. This multidisciplinary program draws upon forensic science, criminal justice, chemical sciences, biological sciences, anthropology, and sociology. Students in this program will also have the option of choosing either the anthropology, biology, or chemistry track to enhance their degree.

Designed to provide students with theoretical and practical backgrounds in the legal, investigative, and scientific aspects of forensic science, this bachelor’s degree requires a 6-semester hour internship experience providing students with the opportunity to integrate academic studies with the daily operations of a forensic science-related facility.

Comprising 121 to 123 credits, the program includes courses such as the survey of forensic science; introduction to criminal justice; criminal courts; introduction to anthropology; forensic science: crime scene investigation; forensic science evidence analysis; special topics in forensic sciences; practice and ethics in forensic science; and genetics.

  • Location: Youngstown, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
  • Estimated Tuition: In-state ($935.54 per credit); out-of-state ($965.54 per credit)

In addition to the various forensic science program offerings in Ohio, students also have some resources at their disposal at the Forensic Science Institute of Ohio, which provides continuing education, upholds educational standards, and promotes professional development in forensic sciences in the state of Ohio.

Hybrid & Online Forensics Programs in Ohio

Some students in Ohio may have full-time jobs or family commitments that prevent them from attending a traditional “brick-and-mortar” school. Online and hybrid programs expand students who must work full-time or live far away from a college or university campus. To serve these students, Ohio colleges and universities offer many high-quality forensic science and criminal justice programs online.

North Central State College

North Central State College (NCSC) offers six campuses in the Ohio cities of Shelby, Ashland, Bucyrus, and Willard, and two in Mansfield. In addition to these more traditional schools, NCSC offers a 100 percent online associate degree in criminal justice comprising 65 credits. The curriculum includes courses such as Introduction to criminal justice; criminal and constitutional law; criminal investigation; criminology; family violence; juvenile delinquency; and forensic psychology.

Students in this program learn core criminal justice concepts in specialization areas such as juvenile justice, criminology, constitutional law, corrections, and private security. Graduates from this program go to work in local, state, or federal law enforcement. NCSC has more than 40 agreements with four-year colleges and universities to transfer credits earned in this two-year degree program to a four-year bachelor’s degree on-campus or online.

  • Location: Mansfield, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two years
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($186.60 per credit); non-resident ($373.20 per credit)

Southern State Community College

Southern State Community College, in partnership with the University of Cincinnati, offers a bachelor of science in information technology with a cyber security emphasis. Students in this program complete an associate’s degree in computer technology with a focus on cyber security and networking at Southern State Community College, and then transition and complete their bachelor of science on-campus or online at the University of Cincinnati.

In the first two years, students take math and computer science courses and learn special topics such as database management; digital design; and cybersecurity topics in the program’s final half. Design practicum courses in the program’s second half give students hands-on practical experience in applying their didactic skills.

  • Location: Hillsboro, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Two to four years
  • Estimated Tuition: Resident ($192 per credit); non-resident ($366 per credit)

University of Akron

The University of Akron offers a fully online bachelor of science in criminology and criminal justice. This 120-credit program includes core courses such as government and politics in the US, introduction to police studies, and social inequalities, as well as elective courses such as Arabic culture through film and politics of the criminal justice system.

This program is offered in a cohort model to promote a community environment for online students. Specialized learning plans are available for high school graduates, professionals, or retired military service members. This program can be completed in eight semesters with a full-time course load.

Sample some courses in the curriculum: introduction to criminal justice; politics of the criminal justice system; introduction to corrections; principles of criminal law; criminology; crime analysis applications; and juvenile delinquency.

  • Location: Akron, OH
  • Accreditation: Higher Learning Commission (HLC)
  • Expected Time to Completion: Four years
  • Estimated Tuition: $420.69 per credit

Please note that many forensics programs in Ohio require classroom participation since laboratory procedures need sophisticated equipment that can’t be accessed from home.

Students may find additional online options and coursework through campus-based forensics colleges in Ohio or by checking out the national listing of online forensics and CSI programs.

Forensic Program Accreditation & Professional Certification

Several organizations provide accreditation to forensics programs in Ohio. Schools that have received accreditation typically undergo a rigorous process to ensure they meet quality standards in instruction, program content, student outcomes, and other measures.

The Forensic Science Education Programs Accreditation Commission (FEPAC) is the primary organization that accredits forensic science programs and there are only two programs that have received FEPAC accreditation at the programmatic level. However, those programs that do not have FEPAC accreditation can still offer precious training. Further, FEPAC accredits very few programs overall and does not consider programs without a heavily science-focused curriculum, which means most CSI and criminal justice programs are ineligible for accreditation.

At an institutional level, the schools listed above are accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, the regional organization that’s approved by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA).

Finally, forensic science professionals do not need any special certification to practice in Ohio, but some employers may prefer certified job candidates. Here is a list of some of the organizations offering certifications for forensic scientists, technicians, and CSIs in Ohio:

  • American Board of Criminalistics (ABC)
  • American Academy of Forensic Scientists (AAFS)
  • International Association for Identification (IAI)
  • International Crime Scene Investigators Association (ICSIA)
School Name City Forensic
Total Forensics
Grads (2016-2017)
Tiffin University Tiffin x x x 62
Youngstown State University Youngstown x 12
Bowling Green State University-Main Campus Bowling Green x 11
University of Northwestern Ohio Lima x x 11
Sinclair Community College Dayton x 8
Washington State Community College Marietta x 7
The University of Findlay Findlay x 7
Zane State College Zanesville x 6
Ohio Northern University Ada x 4
Defiance College Defiance x x 4
Central Ohio Technical College Newark x 4
Southern State Community College Hillsboro x 3
Lorain County Community College Elyria x x 3
Cedarville University Cedarville x 3
University of Akron Main Campus Akron x x 2
Ashland University Ashland x 2
Stark State College North Canton x 1
Miami University-Middletown Middletown x 1

School "total forensics grads" data provided by IPEDS (2018) for the 2016-2017 school year, and includes all certificates and degrees awarded for the following programs: Criminalistics and Criminal Science, Forensic Chemistry, Forensic Science and Technology, Forensic Psychology, Cyber/Computer Forensics, and Financial Forensics and Fraud Investigation.

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